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Last week's car
Last week showed the front corner of a 1959 Edsel. Though the model wasn't required, we did give you the hint that it is the name of a vehicle still being made today. Back then, it was an Edsel Ranger; today, Ranger is a line of Ford pickups.
For all its problems, Edsel had model names that someday would be used by other automakers. There were the Pacer, used by American Motors; the Citation, later a Chevrolet; and Villager, a Mercury. There also was the Corsair, and just as Edsel was flopping its last flop, Chevrolet came out with the similarly named Corvair.
Despite seeing only a hint of the vertical grille that made Edsel the butt of jokes, many readers recognized the car, which Ford manufactured in the 1958-60 model years. Others guessed various Fords, the Chevrolet Impala, Mercury Comet and the Pontiac.
Chosen randomly from the correct readers was the name of James Marks, of Augusta, who said he had an Edsel exactly like the one in the photo. It had the push-button transmission in the steering wheel, he recalled.
"It was a good car," he said. Marks bought it used in 1960 for about $1,100 to $1,150, and traded it in when buying a new 1962 Ford Galaxie convertible.
Marks wins a gift from The Augusta Chronicle.
Other readers identifying the vehicle are:
AIKEN: Bob Hardt wrote: "You can have this car in many colors including Snow white, Jadeglint green metallic, Moonrise gray, President red, and others. It came in three models -- the 1959 Edsel Ranger, the Corsair, or the Villager, which was a station wagon. Named after Edsel Ford and known as a big failure for the Ford Motor Co., though the Edsel did receive a great deal of attention and has a collector car following."
AUGUSTA: Gary Fuller listed the various models sold each of Edsel's three years and pointed out that some models were based on the Ford chassis and others on the larger Mercury chassis. He also remembered an old explanation for what "Edsel" stood for, in addition to being Henry Ford's son: "Every day something else leaked."
CANTON, GA.: David T. Anderson wrote: "My first suspect when I saw this was Edsel; however, it is amazing how much the view of the teaser picture resembles a similar angle of a 1960-61 (Mercury) Comet! This is another of the love 'em or hate 'em collectibles, this example being the 1959 Edsel.
"The Edsel was only around for three model years, 1958-60. Its introductory model year radical styling was toned down after only one year to stem the bloodletting the company was suffering in low sales.
"Ford envisioned the Edsel appealing to a new emerging market of young professionals who maybe could not quite afford to move into a Mercury, as well as current Mercury owners that were not affluent enough to move into a Lincoln. This must have been confusing to the marketing department to figure out how to market it as a bridge both to and from one of its own brands.
"The Edsel was doomed from the beginning, with its maligned "horse collar" styling and persistent quality issues. The quality issues may have been related to the fact that the Edsels were not built on dedicated assembly lines and instead were built on existing Ford and Mercury assembly lines. (Edsels were actually built on existing Ford and Mercury frames)
"This issue was somewhat corrected for 1959 with the dropping of the Mercury-based models and the assembly of all remaining Edsels consolidated into a single Ford plant where the assembly line workers had only to switch between two brands and the cars were much more similar.
"By 1960, the Edsel was nothing more than a redecorated Ford Fairlane, and total sales for the three-year model run were less than what Ford had initially predicted to sell in the first year alone. According to the Edsel Owner's Club Web site, of the approximately 112,000-plus Edsels built, less than 6,000 are known to still survive.
"As a sidebar, the Comet was apparently originally planned as a new smaller Edsel to be introduced in 1960 (hence the similarity to the styling of the 1959 Edsel). The Comet did debut as a 1960 model and was sold through the Mercury dealers as a separate line, not as a Mercury. It was not until 1962 that it became a part of Mercury and thus the Mercury Comet that we are all familiar with today."
COLUMBIA COUNTY: Julian Benning
CUMMING, GA.: Chris Rhodes : "The vehicle shown in this week's edition of 'What Is It?' is a 1959 Edsel Ranger. The 'gunsight' feature on the top of the fenders was a pretty common item on cars of this vintage, and this particular design appeared on several Mercury and Edsel models. But there are a few design cues that cinched the answer: The corner lamp in the front bumper, the horizontal grill slats with vertical indentations, the chrome along the leading edge of the fender and hood and the 'droop' in the front bumper (necessary to clear the Edsel's infamous 'horse collar' center grill) are all exclusive to the Edsel Ranger. And Ranger is the name of Ford's current small pickup truck offering"
EVANS: Wayne Wilke wrote: "The stand-up front fender 'target' ornaments gave it away to me as a Ford product, circa 1960. The Edsel was a failure of titanic magnitude resulting from its:
- Ugly styling (with its horse collar grille)
- Untimely introduction during an economic downturn
- Too narrow market slot between Ford and Mercury
- Unattractive name.
"In 1958, four models were produced. Corsairs and Citations were based on Mercury bodies, and Pacers and Rangers on Ford Fairlane bodies. About 63,000 Edsels were produced.
"In 1959, the number of models was reduced to just two: Corsairs and Rangers. About 45,000 Edsels were produced.
"In 1960, with model termination announced in November 1959, only Rangers were offered and only about 2,800 were produced.
"A joke of the time, based on the horse-collar grille, was that 'an Edsel was really an Oldsmobile sucking on a lemon.'
"The front fender target ornament brought back a clumsy/awkward teenage moment to me. I was 15 years old in the summer of '61 and had been invited to go to a restaurant with my 'goin' steady' girlfriend and her parents. They had a '60 Ford Fairline with the fender target ornaments.
"As we were leaving the restaurant, I slipped on some gravel and grabbed at the Ford's front fender to steady myself. The target ornament broke off. There was no super glue in those days, and that Ford Fairlane must have gone to its rusty grave missing its driver's side fender ornament."
Larry Heath wrote: "This was Ford's ill-fated vehicle introduced in 1957, which was poor timing as the market had begun shifting to smaller cars. The Edsel did have some distinctive styling features and some unique mechanicals (push-button gear selector in the steering wheel). The Edsel hung on until 1960 but was discontinued early in the 1960 model year. An Edsel is now a reminder of the days when autos had personality and character. Thanks for the memories."
Also, Bill Harding
GRANITEVILLE: G.K. Corley
KEYSVILLE, GA.: Glenn Widner wrote: "This is a 1959 Edsel Ranger. A 223-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine was standard, or all the way up to a 361-cubic-inch Y-block. Ford made it's first overhead valve V-8 in 1954, a 239-cubic-inch Y-block, and I have one in a two-door sedan.
MCBEAN: Robert Lamb said he remembers seeing kinfolk driving Edsels in the neighborhood when he was younger.
MARTINEZ: Cheryl Cook and Vera Brandenburg
NORTH AUGUSTA: Tim Davis
NO CITY LISTED : Bettye Beard said: "I found it on the Internet after going through about 5,000 vintage automobiles!"